The cast was mostly in period attire, which I liked (though Lucentio's servant for some reason wore ray bans when disguised as him), but the whole production was thwarted by an effort to play to the modern audience. I didn't really mind the broad, modern feeling deliveries, I even kind of liked that the guy playing Grumio, Petruchio's servant, played him like Don Knotts. The problem was that the actors playing Petruchio and Katherine crafted their performances around either a fundamental misunderstanding of the material or a deliberate revision of it. The result being that their characters never got purchase, never stopped feeling like just performers dressed as the part, and the broad comedic subplot about the competing suitors for Bianca came out as far more effective.
Jonno Roberts played Petruchio as I suspect he plays every role, with a sort of cocky, smarmy handsome guy shtick that's almost Shatner-esque with its peculiarly timed pauses. He also whined and deployed sitcom double takes and broad panic at some moments, while Emily Swallow as Katherine seemed to constantly be mugging for the audience with two-bit sassiness, often seeming to be silently saying, "You know what I'm talkin' about ladies." Her final monologue about the importance of respecting a husband as lord was delivered with grating and unrelenting sarcasm so at odds with the writing it was impossible not to wonder why the company even chose to do this play.
If people find the philosophy at play in Taming of the Shrew to be sexist and archaic, that's fine. But absolutely nothing's accomplished by playing the play as exactly the opposite of what you think it is. At it's heart, Taming of the Shrew is about the sensibility of a cooperative relationship, but the process by which it reaches this point depends on the idea that a man holding intellectual and emotional superiority over a woman is a plausible and good thing. When the actors insist on tapping into modern sitcom preconceptions about the invariably, lovably goofy guy and the fundamental intellectual authority of women, who graciously tolerate their apish lovers, it just becomes a noisy mess. I honestly don't think these people are acquainted with the concept of using one's imagination to temporarily appear to adopt a philosophy and mode of life different from one's own, otherwise known as acting.
It wasn't all bad, though. Joseph Marcell as Gremio was really good. I'd have liked to have seen him as Petruchio, actually. I see he was in a 1988 episode of Doctor Who.
My Doctor Who watching stalled a little bit while cryptess was here, who, though she is a Doctor Who fan, I didn't want to plunge into the middle of a serial she hadn't seen the beginning of. Like the fan I talked to at Comic-Con, she's mainly familiar with the new Doctor Who, which I've still managed to avoid having seen. It's weird how I can still relate to the fans of the new show, though--it does feel like time travel.
But last night I watched the end of the very long War Games serial, the last one with Patrick Troughton as The Doctor. I'll miss him, although he leaves just as his mannerisms are starting to feel tired to me. But I like his arching eyebrows and his almost buck teeth that together make him look like an evil rabbit, and I loved the way he'd puff his cheeks out whenever he was afraid.
The War Games was at times engaging, at other times too tiresomely pulp to me. Especially with the seemingly meaningless and rather unlikely process of everyone escaping and getting captured over and over. The villains, the War Lords and the renegade Time Lord are among the series' so far most unintentionally hilarious, delivering some of the most over the top, teeth gnashing, hammy villain acting I've ever seen. And I loved the renegade Time Lord with his special evil claw sideburns and inverted Hitler moustache;